Leonard V. Falcone

Director of Bands, Michigan State University

Euphonium Artist, Teacher and Clinician

Arranger for Concert Band


By Ron Berndt, 2010


Note to Wikipedians: This text may be copied and reposted, used as is convenient to serve the purpose of education and general interest. It was posted in an altered format to Wikipedia by the author, and is thus not there in violation of any copyright. This article may not be used as justification for a copyright violation citation on Wikipedia.

Leonard Falcone was born Leonardo Vincenzo Falcone in Roseto Valfortore in Italy April 5th, 1899. Playing first Alto Horn and also Violin, Falcone became active in the local town band. He studied multiple instruments and conducting under Maistro Donatto Donatelli of Naples in his teens. At the age of 16, he followed his brother Nicholas who had emigrated in 1912, to the United States. Nicholas, who first hired his brother Leonard as a tailor’s assistant, having found work as a tailor and theater clarinet player, later hired him again to play trombone at the Ypsilanti Michigan silent movie theater when Nick began conducting the pit orchestra. Leonard enrolled in the University School of Music in Ann Arbor Michigan, which would become the University of Michigan School of Music years later, where he met many of his lifelong professional and personal colleagues and friends. Nicholas followed professor Wilfred Wilson as Director of Bands at the school in the 1920s. Leonard Falcone proudly became a citizen of his adopted country in 1924. Two Years later, he would graduate from college with a degree in violin.

In 1927, Falcone applied for the band directorship at Michigan State College, the former Michigan Agricultural College, and was awarded the position. The entire college at the time had roughly 2500 students and the band only 65. As the Institute of Music and Arts, which the College of Music was first known as, was not formally created until the following year, he began as director of the military band, professor of wind instruments and Italian.

As their programs grew and the Falcone brothers' own reputations as bandmasters grew along with, both brothers also competed as prolific arrangers of music for concert band. In 1935, Nicholas lost his hearing and for a year, until longtime UofM director William D. Revelli was hired, Leonard commuted between East Lansing and Ann Arbor serving as Director of Bands at both schools – the only person to do so at these schools which are historic rivals until the arrival of Kevin Sedatole, the current director of bands, who served as associate director of bands at the University of Michigan previously.

Leonard Falcone did allow himself distractions from his work, enlisting in the military during WWII and also marrying Betty Beryl Cromer and starting a family. The Falcones had 2 daughters, Mary Beryl and Cecillia. Their granddaughter Lisa also was raised by them. The Falcone’s are pictured together below at the home of Birmingham band director Arnold Berndt and his wife Alice around 1960 below. Leonard and Nick Falcone attended the University School of Music at the same time that the Berndt’s were also there.


During the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Falcone expanded the role and performances of the band as well as establishing himself as a leading teacher and performer on baritone horn (and euphonium). Performances by the band at the White House, the New York World’s Fair and televised performances at the Rose Bowl parade in 1954, 1956 and 1965, along with the multiple recordings of both the MSC bands and Falcone on baritone, would bring his name and music at Michigan State onto the national stage. He was initiated as an honorary member of the Gamma Epsilon Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity at Michigan State in 1940.

Leonard Falcone toured as a solo artist for decades as well as publishing several solo recordings. Michigan State University owns the rights to these recordings and republishes them from time to time as students of Baritone and Euphonium still seek them out. He was regarded by some as the 20th century master of his instrument as Simone Mantia had been regarded before him. Many of those recognized by the Falcone Competition and other similar authorities as the current masters, either studied under, or under students of, Falcone. Brian Bowman, who acknowledged in an interview studying the recordings instead of studying with the man - being the noted exception among those featured in the article. His students include leading artists such as Roger Behrend, Earle Louder and many others.

Falcone offered the facilities of Michigan State College for summer youth music camps for many years and later assisted the Stansel family with making the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp a leading facility for the same. In 1941, at the urging of friends and colleagues in south-east Michigan who had formed the predecessor to today's Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association in 1934, Falcone hosted the Band and Orchestra Festival at MSC. These festivals became an ongoing annual event and also include marching band, solo and ensemble festivals where thousands of Michigan schools and students compete at regional and then, if qualified, state levels where they are adjudicated by experts in the field each year.

Falcone retired in 1967 and Michigan State bestowed an honorary doctorate on him in 1978. He remained Professor Emeritus of Baritone and Euphonium for the rest of his life. Falcone's career at MSU was pivotal in transforming a military auxiliary band of 65 into today's MSU College of Music with hundreds of students and tens of thousands of alumni.

Falcone wrote, lectured extensively, and presented many clinics on band technique and playing. He published lists of Euphonium repertoire and conducted master classes and clinics at music education venues such as the annual midwestern music conference. He enjoyed working with young people at Blue Lake and also often worked with HS groups as both soloist and clinician - rehearsing the groups that he would then play with. Falcone continued to teach well after his official retirement in 1967 and maintained an office on campus until his death on May 2nd, 1985. Only months earlier, he had still been coaching a young student on Euphonium, planning an Italian tour for an alumni band, and working to arrange an oriental march for concert band. While the march arrangement was never finished, the alumni band did tour Italy the following summer.

Leonard Falcone's playing, as well as his devotion to teaching and advancing the instrument, lead his students to create the Falcone International Tuba and Euphonium Festival which seeks to give a stage to new talent and future artists on his instrument and Tuba. Each August, the festival competition welcomes masters of the instruments and new students alike to Twin Lake Michigan.

The legacy he left, the Falcone festival not withstanding, certainly included his beloved bands at Michigan State. While still retaining some aspects of its military origins, the Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band lives on in the modern form established by Falcone with most of its cherished traditions and values deriving from his 1927 to 1967 tenure. The band was and is nationally recognized for excellence and has been seen by millions through its many performances on television and at major events including performing for 5 sitting US Presidents.

Falcone left to the concert band movement a wealth of arrangements of classical orchestral and operatic music that he adapted to the instrumentation and timbre of the band as well as many military marches from cultures around the world adapted to modern western instrumentation. Michigan State University’s marching band continues to play its iconic version of the MSU Fight Song, affectionately known to the band as “Falcone Fight.” During his tenure at Michigan State University, the fight song was a very dynamic arrangement, ever-subject to changes, as can be heard in the various recordings found throughout the University archives. The Spartan Marching Band now recognizes a specific one of his many arrangements as "Falcone Fight". (However, it also plays another variation, "Pregame Fight" arranged by former SMB assistant director, William Moffit, for pregame performance and as an in-game celebration.)

Falcone published many articles, solo literature repertoires, and even a beginning baritone method in two volumes co-authored with Birmingham Michigan teacher Arnold Berndt and published by Belwin. His most enduring publication however has been the recordings which live on today in CD and mp3 formats in many places both with and without the permission of Michigan State University.

Falcone’s recordings included (not a complete list):

Songs of Michigan State College, Recorded Publications Co, Camden New Jersey / RCA Victor, 1955 {Band and Men's Glee Club}

·        MSC Fight Song (Lankey / Falcone)

·        Spartan Toast (Coleman)

·        Michigan State Spartans

·        Clap Your Hands

·        The Gallant Seventh (Sousa)

·        MSC March (Marsalis / Bibo)

·        MSC Shadows (Traynor / Finn)

·        Close Beside the Winding Cedar (Amici / Brown)

Michigan State University Band, Volume 1, LPS-1232 Fidelity Sound Recordings, Redwood City California

·        MSU Fight Song (Lankey / Falcone)

·        Funiculi Funicula (Denza)

·        Suite from Carmen (Bizet / Nicholas Falcone)

·        Stars and Stripes Forever (Sousa / Hershey Kay)

·        All America March (Taylor)

·        MSU Shadows (Traynor / Falcone)

·        March Electric (Creatore / Falcone)

·        Pines of the Appian Way (Respighi)

·        La Traviata, Prelude to Act 1 (Verdi / Falcone)

·        Gallito (Lope)

Michigan State University Band, Volume 2, LPS-1245 Fidelity Sound Recordings, Redwood City California

·        Army of the Nile (Alford)

·        Pepita Greus (Chovi)

·        Flag of Victory (Von Blon)

·        The Black Horse Troop (Sousa)

·        Noble Men (Filmore)

·        The Gladiator (Sousa)

·        Father of Victory (Ganne)

·        The Dover Coach (Vinter)

·        Puenteareas (Sautullo)

·        Moto Perpetuo (Paganini / Nicholas Falcone)

·        Inglesina (Dela Cese) 

MSU's Leonard Falcone, Published by Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band Alumni in 1967 to raise funds for the Falcone scholarship

Michigan State University Concert Band at Birmingham Groves HS (Michigan) March 21, 1963, unpublished (Can be found in the MSU archives library, and the Birmingham Historical Museum collection)

·        Marche Millitaire Frances, (Saint-saens)

·        Carnival of Venice

·        Overture to Italian in Algiers (Rossini)

·        Corcoran Cadet March (Sousa)

·        March: Nobel Men (Fillmore)

·        Pepita Greus (Chovi)

·        MSU Shadows and Fight Song together (Traynor / Lankey / Falcone)

Michigan State University Concert Band at Midland HS (Michigan) April 22, 1960, unpublished (can be found in the MSU archives library)

·        Procession of the Nobles from Milada (Rimsky-Korsakov)

·        Mannin Veen (Wood)

·        Jabberwocky (Walters)

Leonard Falcone and his Baritone, RE-7001 Golden Crest Records, Huntington Station, New York

·        From the Shores of the Mighty Pacific (HL Clarke)

·        Estrellita (M Ponce)

·        Bourree 1 & 2 form Suite 3 for Cello (JS Bach)

·        Beautiful Colorado (J DeLuca)

·        Atlantic Zephyrs (G Simons)

·        Piece en Forme de Habanera (JB Senaille)

·        Morceau Symphonique (A Guilmant)

Leonard Falcone Baritone Horn, RE 7036 Golden Crest Records, Huntington Station, New York

·        My Regards (E Llwellyn)

·        Una Furtiva Lacrima (G Donizetti / R Harvey)

·        Sentimentale (J DeLuca)

·        Concert Piece (PV De La Nux)

·        Allegro de Concert (E Cools)

·        Andante et Allegro (JE Barat)

·        Adagio from Concerto for Cello (J Haydn / D Shuman)

·        Napoli (H Bellstedt)


Leonard Falcone Baritone Volume II, RE-7016 Golden Crest Records, Huntington Station, New York

·        Concerto (G Magnan)

·        Tarantella (WH Squire)

·        Fantasia Original (Picchi-Mantia)

·        Premier Solo de Concert (F Combelle)

·        Platera (E Granados / L Falcone)

·        Le Cygne (C Saint-Saens)

·        Blue Bells of Scotland (A Pryor)

Michigan State University Presents Leonard Falcone, Baritone Horn Volume IV, MSU-8984 Crest Records, Huntington Station, New York

·        From the Shores of the Mighty Pacific (HL Clarke) Penn intercollegiate band, J Dunlop dir.(1962)

·        Solo Mio (DiCapua)

·        Serenade (Schubert / Falcone) Penn intercollegiate band, J Dunlop dir. (1962)

·        Ave Maria (Bach / Gounod / Falcone)

·        Fantasie Original (Picchi-Mantia / Falcone) Royal Canadian Reg. Band, Capt. D Stannard dir. (1967)

·        Flower Song from Carmen (Bizet / AA Harding) Pontiac HS Band, D Harris dir.(1958)

·        Serenade (E Toselli)

Birmingham Seaholm HS Spring Concert, April 1961, Arnold Berndt directing, Leonard Falcone soloist, unpublished (can be found in the MSU archives library and the Birmingham Historical Museum collection)

·        From the Shores of the Mighty Pacific (HL Clarke)

·        Serenade (Schubert / Falcone)

·        Rehearsal of the Schubert Serenade




Leonard Falcone in his later years, tutoring the author.

Return to trumpet-history.com